Bethel CRC Lacombe

October 9, 2023 Let Us Come Before the Lord with Thanksgiving Psalm 95

October 10, 2023 Pastor Jake Boer Season 7 Episode 1
Bethel CRC Lacombe
October 9, 2023 Let Us Come Before the Lord with Thanksgiving Psalm 95
Show Notes Transcript

Today during our Thanksgiving service we will be reflecting on Psalm 95 Let Us Come Before the Lord with Thanksgiving. We’re called to sing for joy, to come before God with thanksgiving because of who God is, not because of what we get from God.

Let Us Come Before the Lord with Thanksgiving

Psalm 95

 

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada, a day set aside by the government of Canada to stop and remember to give thanks after harvest time. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, “The first official, annual Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated on 6 November 1879, though Indigenous peoples in Canada have a history of celebrating the fall harvest that predates the arrival of European settlers. Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew are credited as the first Europeans to celebrate a Thanksgiving ceremony in North America, in 1578. They were followed by the inhabitants of New France under Samuel de Champlain in 1606. The celebration featuring the uniquely North American turkey, squash and pumpkin was introduced to Nova Scotia in the 1750s and became common across Canada by the 1870s. In 1957, Thanksgiving was proclaimed an annual event to occur on the second Monday of October.”

The Bible is filled with times of celebration of thanksgiving; however, God gave Israel two feasts of celebration related especially to the harvest. There were fifty days between the two feasts that focus on thanks for the harvest: the Feast of First Fruits signaled the beginning of the spring harvest; and Shavu’ot, or Pentecost, celebrated the end of the spring harvest. Crops that produce food remain important for our health and strength so God calls us to be thankful for our food and those who work to grow it. For the Israelites, these feasts called for the entire nation coming together to celebrate God’s goodness. Those feasts are the closest celebrations to Thanksgiving in Canada, when we as a nation thank God for our blessings and the harvest.

Psalm 95 calls us to sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving.” There are beautiful images of who God is in the first part of this psalm that bring us to praise, as Scott Hoezee points out, “Metaphors for God as a Rock, as a King, as a Shepherd are lyric and lovely.  God’s redemptive desire is played off against his mighty power as the Creator of all the earth and as the One who is so awesome that he holds whole mountain ranges in the palm of his hand.” We’re called to approach God with joy; a spirit of celebration because of who God is. This psalm is all about who God is, not so much about what we get from God. Thanksgiving happens because God is who he is, not because of what we get out of him. 

The sole exception is that God is the Rock of our salvation, that God, as our God works to save us. The context for Israel is the exodus out of Egypt, out of slavery into freedom so they can come to God and praise him. If you remember the story of the exodus of Israel out of Egypt, the reason for Israel to go into the wilderness was so they could worship their God away from the influence of the temples and idol worship in Egypt. In this psalm, our Creator God calls us to come to his place to bow down in worship and kneel before the Lord our Maker. The reason we do this is because we are his people, he has claimed us as his and he cares for, and protects us, as a shepherd cares for, provides for, and protects his flock. This is why we are here this morning, to worship and praise our Creator, our Good Shepherd.

And yet, even on a day when we come to praise and worship our God, we should be honest enough with ourselves and admit that there is often a tension between our praise and worship of God and wanting to do things our ways, to want more than he has given us in his generosity and grace. The psalmist is honest enough to remember the times of selfishness and grumbling to God, even right after he had brought the people out of slavery and destroyed their enemy before their very eyes. The psalmist reminds the people that instead of worshipping the Rock of their salvation, they complained, “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did. For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.” 

The psalm reflects who we really are; we love to praise and worship God, to give thanks to him, and to see God for who he is. This is why we come Sunday mornings to gather together and worship together. It’s often easy to do this when we are all together. However, after worship, sometimes even during worship, tension can slip into our hearts and small questions of doubt creep in and we wonder if God can really be trusted, if he will really give us what we’re looking for, and we get tempted to look backwards, and like Israel wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to simply to go back to Egypt where the watermelons tasted so good and where the breezes of the Nile cooled a person down when it was hot and sticky. Like Adam and Eve, we begin to think about what we don’t have, what God hasn’t given us instead of how he has blessed us and is with us. Then the words of Jesus in Matthew 15 begin to sting, “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’”  

This psalm is a call to live fully with and for God in a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude. We worship God, we give thanks to Jesus, we show appreciation for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives, not for what we get out of it, but for who God truly is. We move forward in life together in and with grace; God’s grace. The grace of God is found in his presence with us in our sin, failures, and fears; in his grace in choosing us as his children, in the grace found in Jesus and how he reconciled us to God our Creator and Father through his loving sacrifice on the cross, in the grace of the gift of the Holy Spirit living in us and who comforts us and keeps pointing us back to Jesus.

This Thanksgiving Day, the call is to give thanks for who God is; God of gods, creator and artist extraordinaire, as his sheep, children of his flock, and may our praise ring in the heavens and throughout our community so that our God is praised in all places and in all ways for his glory. 

 

 

What love could remember no wrongs we have done?
 Omniscient, all knowing, He counts not their sum.
 Thrown into a sea without bottom or shore,
 Our sins they are many, His mercy is more!

Verse 2
What patience would wait as we constantly roam?
What Father, so tender, is calling us home?
He welcomes the weakest, the vilest, the poor,
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more!

Chorus
Praise the Lord! His mercy is more!
Stronger than darkness, new every morn,
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more!

Verse 3
What riches of kindness Christ lavished on us,
His blood was the payment, His life was the cost!
We stood ‘neath a debt we could never afford,
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more!